Ask LH: How Can I Fit A Workout Into My Daily Routine?

Ask LH: How Can I Fit A Workout Into My Daily Routine?

Dear Lifehacker, I really need to exercise more often. I want to try the Lifehacker Workout, but I just don’t feel like I have the time. I’m up in the morning and right out the door to work, then when I get home I barely have time to eat and relax before I have to go to bed. How can I squeeze a workout into my routine?Signed, Getting Pudgy

Photo by cumidanciki.

Dear Getting Pudgy,

We know how you feel! It can be difficult to carve out time to exercise or take care of yourself when you have so many other responsibilities pulling you in every direction. That said, finding time for a half-hour to an hour-long workout every day doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are a few ways to hack your schedule so you find the time to work out, or at least force yourself into making the time. After all, your health is important. You should definitely make time for it.


Work Out With Other People

One of the best things about The Lifehacker Workout is that it’s designed to be done with other people. Even if you’re alone in your home when you work out, you still have to chart your progress and tell other people how well you’re doing. Use your Twitter followers or Facebook friends to encourage you, and post your workouts to your social networks so your friends can keep up with your activities and cheer you on. (Just don’t spam them!) The encouragement you’ll get from your friends and family cuts both ways, too: when you miss a workout or miss your goals, everyone will see, so you have some real encouragement to keep up the pace. Photo by Deane Thomas Rimerman.

Another way to build on that social motivation is to use a web app or service that encourages social exercise. The Lifehacker Workout uses Fleetly, a social workout tool that’s built to help groups and friends track their workouts, share their progress and engage in a little friendly competition. You may also want to consider a service like Fitocracy that encourages group participation, challenges and social encouragement.

Put It On the Calendar

I know, easier said than done. Still, if your employer thinks boring staff meetings are important enough to put on your calendar every day, don’t you think taking care of yourself is important enough to make your calendar too? Pick a time that you really want to squeeze your workout into, and just schedule it. If it doesn’t work out, you can always move it later. I’m a fan of scheduling a workout right after work, so you get the benefit of having something to force you to stop working and leave the office. The same applies if you schedule your workouts first thing in the morning: give yourself something rewarding and energising to do before you start the day. Either way, clearing out a specific time, bookending other important activities and putting it on the calendar — complete with reminders — will make sure it stays on your radar and you don’t forget it.


Get a Workout Buddy

Online encouragement will only take you so far. If you really want to make sure you get a workout into your regular routine is to schedule your workouts with another person. The two of you can encourage and support each other, and if you ever try to sneak out of your daily workout, your friend can make sure to drag you to the gym (and vice versa.) Plus, making sure to schedule your workout with a buddy for every day after work, for example, makes sure that you’ll actually make time to hit the gym. You’ll quickly find yourself more inclined to hit the gym if there’s someone else involved that may be disappointed if you don’t show up. Photo by Maria Ly.

Find Exercise That You Enjoy

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to make sure you find an exercise regimen that you’ll actually look forward to doing every morning or every other day. If you hate running but love biking, hit the stationary bike instead of the treadmill. If you love swimming, find a gym with a pool where you can swim every day after work. You can even sweeten the pot by combining your exercise with entertainment. Make your workout time the time you listen to your favourite podcasts or audiobooks, or watch your favourite TV shows on TiVo. It’s difficult enough to get motivated enough to exercise when you have a busy schedule. Make those workouts something you’ll actually look forward to doing, and you’ll be more likely to do them. With luck, eventually you’ll look forward to them at the end of a long day or a great way to jumpstart your morning.

While there’s no way to actually add hours to the day or make your daily routine any less hectic, there are ways to make sure you step back, find a little time to squeeze in some exercise — even if it’s only a half-hour after work, and put it on the calendar so you never forget it. Once you put it on the calendar, all you have to do is make sure your workout is enjoyable enough that you’ll want to go, and social enough that you have a reason to go. Before you know it, you’ll wonder why you didn’t find the time to exercise sooner.

Cheers Lifehacker

Got your own question you want to put to Lifehacker? Send an email to [email protected], and include ‘Ask Lifehacker’ in the subject line.


  • I could never motivate myself to exercise in a proper routine. I would be a gym junkie for two months, then become stupidly fat and lazy for the next two.

    I signed up to a boot camp ( about four months ago and haven’t looked back since. The motivation and professionalism I got from the trainers and my peers have kept me in shape and I have definitely learnt a lot about diet and general fitness.

    It’s a bit pricey, but to be honest, that gives me even more motivation to go.

  • Depending on your circumstances, get a bike. I started cycling to work about a year ago, and have lost around 6kg without any change in diet. You’ll feel so much better and because it’s part of your daily routine, you don’t feel like it’s a chore, and you don’t need to get motivated.
    But. If you do decide to commute by bike, please, please, don’t buy a bike shaped object from gay mart. Get some advice from your local bike shop, you don’t need anything fancy, and you don’t need to wear lycra, you can cycle in your regular clothes.
    So, give yourself a pay rise too, and ditch the car.

  • +1 to your views on lycra, Giles. Nothing wrong with it, of course, but unless you cycle 50+ km to work it only adds wank factor.

    The hardest thing for me was creating time in the morning so I could ride to work AND keep my morning cafe session before having to clock on. I was hung up on having enough ‘relaxing’ time in the evenings, so was going to bed late. I realised I spent (wasted) most of this time on the internet, so I forced myself to hit the hay and get up earlier.

    It’s only been a month, but I don’t feel like I’m missing anything. In the morning, I have a whole hour to eat breakfast, ride to town, get coffee and write my journal – all these things make me a happier, healthier person. I don’t miss ‘relaxing’ on the web at all!

  • Agree with the ‘get a bike’ advice. But that’s only one way to make exercise part of your commute. The easiest method is to walk part of the way, by getting off the train/bus (or parking your car) a couple of kilometres or more from your office. Then the walk’s really part of your routine, and becomes quite addictive.

  • Another vote for ‘get a bike’, but I live about 5kms from work and can just cycle there in my office clothes.

    As a bonus, it works out both quicker and cheaper to cycle than drive to my office once you factor in parking. The only real downside is when it rains.

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